Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) is committed to professional development of its staff across the organization and sharing its expertise with the broader legal community. Our organization is in a unique position to effectively improve the overall quality of the justice system in Alberta. Educating our partners in the justice system about access to justice issues is central to our goal of being a Centre of Excellence in all that we do.
Over the course of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, LAA worked with community organizations, stakeholders, legal professionals and staff to provide educational and professional development opportunities that helped them better understand their role in the justice system and how they can better support Albertans who come into contact with the system.
Some examples of this include a training session for lawyers on Representation of Children in High Conflict Parenting matters, specialized training from LAA on Intergenerational Historic Trauma and its Impact on Aboriginal Clients in the Justice System, co-hosting Siksika Law Day, and hosting the Junior Counsel Criminal Law Conference.
LAA provides multiple opportunities for post-secondary students to complete work placements as part of their education. Student opportunities throughout the 2018-19 fiscal year include:
- Articling Students – Three articling students began one year placements in early July 2018. Students complete a rotation through the various practice areas, including Family, Adult Criminal, Youth Criminal, and in-house Corporate.
- Criminology/Criminal Justice Students – Four students completed a three-month placement with Justice Navigators. Duties included writing reports for court, advocacy and mentorship toclients, and assisting clients with basic needs
- Student Mentorship
- Canadian Bar Association (CBA) – One student was mentored by a LAA lawyer through the CBA Mentorship program. The student shadowed the lawyer in court and the lawyer answered general questions about the legal profession and their role.
- University of Calgary Legal Clinic – One LAA lawyer provided on-going mentorship to
student lawyers as they worked on files assigned to them through the Calgary Legal Clinic.
- Low Income Individuals – Five students completed a four-month rotation to provide legal support in the delivery of legal services to low income individuals and other marginalized groups. This placement program is administered in conjunction with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre, with the supervising lawyer being from LAA.
- Mental Health Court – Eleven students completed a practical portion of a Mental Health Course by attending Mental Health Court with a LAA lawyer.
For more information about what we’ve been up to, check out this interactive website that was developed to showcase the 2018-2019 fiscal year and our successes.